For anyone wondering, “How do you use Catholic Schoolhouse at home?” here is my family’s story. Please know that just because my family’s homeschool looks this way, your family’s homeschool does not need to! Most likely, you will have a different approach, ideas, and preferences. I hope my story can help you see one way Catholic Schoolhouse’s memory work can be used at home with elementary aged children. We have three children, ages 4, 7, and 9. The schedule below is for our 2nd grader and 4th grader; our Pre-K child has a different schedule, but she is also in the Catholic Schoolhouse Grammar program.
A Typical Daily Schedule
7:00-8:30am Everyone is up. Get dressed. Eat breakfast, and everyone does “morning chores.” Morning chores for the children include unload the dishwasher, clear the table from breakfast, load the dishwasher, make bed, & bring dirty laundry to the laundry room). The children brush their hair and look presentable before school starts.
8:30am or 9am: Start school. Generally we do:
- Language Arts: Handwriting, Grammar, Composition, and Spelling
- Recess and snack
- Math: Math lesson, homework
- Math facts, Spelling word practice; or Math test or Spelling test
- Lunch and load dishwasher. Recess (which gives me time for peace and quiet and to move laundry along)
- Catholic Schoolhouse memory work: open up binder from co-op, and look at what pages need to be completed. Listen to all memory work for the week. Play memory work for a subject while completing pages in binder. We don’t review CSH memory work every day of school, but I am including it here so you see how we fit it in.
- Rotate subjects: Science, health, religion, etc.
- Computer Time: typing program, math facts program, spelling practice. Sometimes computer programming games. If the children are preparing for a speech at co-op, we will spend some time researching (e.g., Encyclopedia Britannica and other sources under supervision)
- Silent Reading Time: all children sit and read silently for 20-minutes; they each have a “book bin” and they choose the books they want to read. For the older children, I ask they choose at least one chapter book.
- Quiet Time: children gather bins and collect activities they can do quietly and independently (e.g., puzzles, coloring book, Legos, Magna Tiles, sewing (9-year-old girl), Snap Circuit, computer programming, write a letter, and choose more books to read)
- Finish up any schoolwork that was not finished.
- Tidy up the house: ideally–but does not always get done! Set the table for dinner. Listen to Catholic Schoolhouse memory work to help, sometimes. Put away homeschool materials into bins to be ready for the next day.
- Children have free play time. If their schoolwork is done, they can read, play, or do whatever they wish.
Every two weeks, we go the library. We usually have about 75 books checked out on our library card. We always get some books about topics from Catholic Schoolhouse. We choose books that are for our current quarter at co-op. We also choose some books about topics from earlier in the school year; this is a nice way to build in review to our schedule. The children are also free to choose books unrelated to Catholic Schoolhouse.
Story Telling at Dinner Time
I am trying to get into the habit of having the children share at dinner time a recap of a book that they read that day. Wouldn’t it be lovely, when they are older, if we can enjoy lively literary discussions as a family around the dinner table? Tonight we had a discussion about what everyone read. Our eldest said, “I read the Trumpet of the Swan today,” and she proceeded to tell the story. The younger children loved hearing about it, and laughed about the idea of a swan using a trumpet, and then paying a store owner for the trumpet! Their sweet laughter was precious. I think it planted seeds for them to want to read the book, too.
About every 4 weeks, the children give a speech at Catholic Schoolhouse in front of their class and parents. When it’s my family’s turn for speeches, my children choose a topic, make a keyword outline (using IEW’s strategy), prepare a speech, and practice it. I learned from a dear friend that it works well if you record your child practicing a speech, and let him/her watch themselves to see how they can improve.
A common prayer we like to pray is: “Good morning Dear Jesus this day is for you, we ask you to bless us in all things we think, say, and do. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, help us to be a holy family.” Then I ask each child to say “who and what” they want to pray for that day. On occasion, we attend daily Mass or Adoration. About once every 1-2 months we make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.
Memory Work: Car-Schooling
We also incorporate Catholic Schoolhouse into our week by playing the memory work when we drive around town. For example, if we are going to the library, the grocery store, or to visit a friend, we take some time to listen the week’s memory work, which only takes about 5-7 minutes.
While “car-schooling,” I sometimes repeat a track a few times to help memorize it. I sometimes pause and talk about it briefly, or I might ask them questions. I like when they say, “My tutor at co-op told me …..” Short playing of the memory work helps review content and cement the auditory memory of the concepts.
We also have light days. There are days where we do a half day of school. Sometimes we complete a minimal amount of schoolwork to make progress, but not complete everything in one day (e.g., math lesson and a language arts book). On lighter days, we often enjoy a field trip, play date, run errands, or get caught up on housework. We are blessed to homeschool, and a great gift with homeschooling is being flexible in our schedule (while still fulfilling our duties of educating for the minimum 875 hours per year in Wisconsin).
Flexibility in Our Schedule and Curriculum
Catholic Schoolhouse provides a wide depth of information across many subjects, but it is not a complete program. As the primary educators, my husband and I choose what math curriculum and language arts curriculum to use with each child. I also choose the type of science, health, and religion books. I love how I can use Catholic Schoolhouse’s content as a springboard for how we decide on choosing books at our library, and it helps make sure there are not any big gaps in our curriculum at home. I also love how Catholic Schoolhouse has weekly art & science projects that are done at co-op. I would have a hard time completing them at home, and it’s a blessing to have help at co-op.
I suspect that there are Catholic Schoolhouse families whose weekly schedule looks quite different from the approach I outlined from my home. That’s ok! Each family is given the God given gift of choosing what is best for their family. Here at Catholic Schoolhouse, we don’t judge each other. I know some families lean more towards unschooling, and some families are enrolled in a formal program for credits. At our Catholic Schoolhouse Green Bay chapter, we are here to walk this homeschooling journey together and encourage each other. We are brought together by our common love for educating our children.